My favorite episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation is especially important to me because it helped guide me in making a crucial decision in my own life. Having finished a 6-year stint as Managing Editor of a top-tier scientific journal, I was looking for a new position (the journal office having moved to Boston). Jobs in STM (scientific, technical, and medical) journal publishing are not always easy to find, and I had been looking for many months. Nothing seemed to be available.
Sensitive to my growing concern, an attorney friend asked if I wanted a job at his law firm doing paralegal work. Since I had a mortgage to pay, I was seriously considering it even though I have no interest in law.
Then I caught a rerun of the TNG episode “Tapestry” (season 6, episode 15, written by Ron Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame). Seeing Picard struggle with the reality of altering the life decisions he had formerly regretted, only to wake up an unremarkable lieutenant junior grade, I realized that I too would never be satisfied with such a subordinate position, and that I needed to be willing to take risks for the captain position I truly wanted (being the Managing Editor of a journal is a little like being the captain of a ship, or at least the first officer).
So I decided to take the risk of waiting and have faith that something would work out. Not too much later, I was offered a position as Managing Editor of another top-tier STM journal, and I have now been with the organization for almost 6 years, having since been promoted to managing 2 journals and a staff of 5.
(Of course, this episode is also why it annoyed me so much that Picard’s young clone in Star Trek: Nemesis doesn’t have hair, but that’s another story.)